Action in Adair County High School provides yet another example of how parents and local taxpayers lost control in their schools when the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 created the School Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) to rule our schools.
In this case, the fight was over a plan to eliminate an agricultural teaching position and to transfer that teaching slot to the language department.
In his “AG POSITION CUT BY 4-2 VOTE” story, The Adair Progress’ reporter Wes Feese points out that the two SBDM parent representatives, Sandy Pyles and Melinda Franklin were simply outvoted by the teachers on a proposal to drop an agricultural teacher position and to transfer the slot to the world languages department.
Pyles and Franklin are sensitive to Adair County’s highly agricultural character, but SBDM membership is controlled by statute at a ratio of three teachers to two parent representatives. A simple majority rules. So, the real control of Kentucky’s schools is in the hands of teachers.
Thus, agricultural interests in Adair County are the latest to get snared by the fiction that Kentucky has local control of schools.
I can’t help but wonder if Adair High’s teachers are worried about a new – and contentious – assessment and accountability plan from the Kentucky Board of Education. The board is requiring program reviews of each school’s world language programs even though those program reviews were not authorized in 2009 legislation that revised Kentucky’s school assessment and accountability program.
In fact, legislators actually passed language in last year’s budget bill that prohibited the implementation of the world language program reviews, but the governor line item vetoed that prohibition. As I said, this is a contentious issue.
In any event, there is no new funding to support world languages. So, the Kentucky Board of Education essentially loaded an unfunded mandate on local schools. Perhaps that unfunded mandate played a role in this latest example of how the fiction of “local control of schools” really means teachers – not citizens, not taxpayers, not parents – in total control of schools in Kentucky.
And, a lot of farm families in Adair County are now learning that tough lesson.